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links for 2010-01-14

14 Jan
  • The army chief is now accused by his rank and file of being soft on some of his generals in a dubious land deal. The Chief Justice of India is not only refusing to open himself and his justices to the Right to Information Act — as politicians and bureaucrats are — but is also seen as reluctant to clean up an admittedly overburdened but increasingly dishonest and opaque system.
    If these gentlemen do not act immediately, they should never blame young people in this age of media-delivered reality for instant beliefs that permanently damn both institutions and damage India’s strongest foundations. General Deepak Kapoor must realise that even modest hopes of filling his 11,000 officer vacancies will quickly evaporate.
    Absolute realities don’t die easily. So, it is important that the truths on offer not just look, but are, complete.
  • In an unsurprising turn of events, Chetan Bhagat's recent visit to Harvard has caused quite a stir. In a press conference called by him for no apparent reason, he said, "Clearly the grading system out there with the points and the someones and the fives is inspired by my book. The least they could have done is give me credit for it. I do not want money, at least they can have a case study about me."
  • 1 Check Your Assumptions
    Ask yourself why this result feels like a failure. What theory does it contradict? Maybe the hypothesis failed, not the experiment.
    2 Seek Out the Ignorant
    Talk to people who are unfamiliar with your experiment. Explaining your work in simple terms may help you see it in a new light.
    3 Encourage Diversity
    If everyone working on a problem speaks the same language, then everyone has the same set of assumptions.
    4 Beware of Failure-Blindness
    It’s normal to filter out information that contradicts our preconceptions. The only way to avoid that bias is to be aware of it.
  • As I went up the ladder in the Navy, I never forgot what it’s like to be down the ladder, and that being good at your job is predicated pretty much on how the people working for you feel…
    The really good people want autonomy — you let me do it, and I’ll do it…
    And we never lied. You don’t lie to your own doctor. You don’t lie to your own attorney, and you don’t lie to your employees…
    The best compliment I ever heard happened one Christmas. I always went out to the airport on holidays, and always made sure that I was there and I’d thank people for giving up their holiday to work. We’d go down to the break room. I’d always eat down in the break room where the food was being passed out.
    I went to sit down at this big long table with these two guys, and I said, “Anybody sitting here?”
    And one of them said to the other: “I told you he’d be here. Give me my $10.”
    He had bet that guy $10 that I’d show up.
  • "A great man," she advised him, "is one sentence." President Lincoln's sentence was obvious: "He preserved the union and freed the slaves." So was FDR's: "He lifted us out of a great depression and helped us win a world war." What, Luce challenged the young, impatient president, was to be his sentence?
    What a powerful question — not just for great presidents, but for great companies, too…
    The lesson is as simple as it is subversive: It's not good enough to be pretty good at everything. You have to be the most of something: the most elegant, the most colorful, the most responsive, the most focused. For decades, organizations and their leaders were comfortable with strategies that kept them in the middle of the road — that's what felt safe and secure. In the new world of business, with so much change, so much pressure, so many new ways to do things, the middle of the road is the road to nowhere.
  • “I am secure in what I do…I am very interested in having the respect of the people I work with, but I am not generally out looking to be admired. I want to be good at what I do, and I want to learn from other people how to get good, be good, stay good.”
    And he is willing to speak up when things are not going as planned or when they could be better.
    “It has always been very easy for me to say no,” he says. “I do have opinions, and I don’t mind arguing for my point of view, but I try not to exercise them at the risk of not hearing other people.”…
    “I don’t look at things from an art perspective,” he agrees. “I look at them from a craft perspective. When I was a carpenter, I once worked with this Russian lady architect. I would tell her, ‘Look, I’m terribly sorry, but I want to change that a half inch,’ and she would say, ‘No limit for better.’ I think that is a worthy credo. You keep on going until you get it as close to being right as the time and patience of others will allow.”
  • It is only in times like these that you get a chance to show your strength. In the end, I think we need to have absolute faith in our ability to deal with whatever is thrown at us. And we need to have a complete, realistic paranoia that a lot can be thrown at us. It's our ability to put those two contradictory ideas together: We need to be prepared for what we can't predict and, at the same time, have this total, unwavering faith that we will find a way to deal with all of it. And I believe we will. I don't believe the world will treat us well, but we will figure out how to do very well.
  • first, engagement is essential to the competitiveness of every company and every economy—and we need to be doing a whole lot better than we are. We’ve got to get management’s dirty little secret out of the HR closet and into the boardroom. And second, if we’re going to improve engagement, we have to start by admitting that the real problem isn’t irksome, monotonous work, but stony-hearted, spirit-deflating managers.
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Posted by on January 14, 2010 in Links

 

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